Explore Like A Pirate: Chapter 1

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Hi everyone!

Today I am really excited to be part of a new book study. We just started to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera.

Today we explore chapter 1: The Call of the Explorer: Discover the Adventure that Awaits.

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for new ways to engage my kids. I already have my students do tons of projects, partner work, group work, and play some games. But I started to think ask the question, “What more can I do?”

I have been teaching for 18 years in a New York City Public School. Over the years, I have seen curriculums, teaching methods, and whatever happened to be the fad at the time come and go. It really is heart breaking to look at your kids and see that glazed look in their eyes. That look that tells you… I am not paying any attention to you. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is student engagement. The trick is finding what will engage your students. What worked well last year might not work this year.

This is why I turned to the book, “Explore Like a Pirate”. I am ready to really sit down and reflect on how I can better engage my students and still show my administration that the work happening in my class is “rigorous” (by the way, I really hate the word rigorous. Any time someone asks admin what it means, they can’t even give an answer.)

In chapter 1, Michael Matera speaks about how gamification is possible because all you need is creativity. We don’t have to worry about buying extra material or spending money out of our own pockets. YES! We can take our curriculum and the content we already teach and just an add extra layer to the top.

I have to be honest, I am a bit worried about the creativity part for myself and the students. I think the current education system has really stomped out any creativity. I find when I am planning lessons, I really have to sit down and think about being creative. My students…they are a totally different problem. There is very little play and creativity in our education system. Just look at our poor kindergarden students who really don’t get to play anymore. By the time they reach me in 2nd grade, the joy of learning is already on it’s way out of the door. When I tell my kids to use their imagination or be creative, they really struggle. They want to be told what to do. This is one reason that I picked up this book. I need to become more creative and engaged and so do my students.

My mind is already in a whirlwind and I have only read the first chapter. I am already thinking about how I can use gamification in my classroom in September. I am glad that I have the entire summer to read this book and reflect on my own teaching and engaging my students. I can’t wait to discuss the next chapter with you next Tuesday.

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Check out what others are saying about Chapter 1 by clicking the picture below!

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Teaching with Intention: Chapter 1

Hi everyone. I am linking up with The Primary Gal for our new book study on “Teaching with Intention”, by Debbie Miller.

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All I can say is WOW! Debbie Miller begins Chapter 1 by asking a good question. She asks, “If I were to ask you to close your eyes and envision the perfect classroom scene, what would you see? What would you hear and smell and feel?” Debbie Miller had me thinking about my classroom with her very first line in Chapter 1. I stopped and thought, what do I think the perfect classroom would be like.

The perfect classroom to me is one where the children feel safe, where they are not afraid to take risks. It has a cozy feeling where the kids know they are welcome and look forward to coming into the classroom everyday. It is a noisy place where you can hear conversations going on about what is being learned and where students are engaged. It smells like markers and glue. 🙂

As I continued reading, I compared my class to the third grade class in Ohio. I could see the kids spread out in different areas of the room, some at meeting areas or desks and having conversations about what they were reading. I see a relaxed environment where the kids really take charge of their own learning. My class used to be similar. Before I moved schools and grades two years ago, my school was using Lucy Calkin’s Teacher’s College Reading and Writing program. We had different consultants come in and out of the school. One of my favorites was Colleen Cruz. 🙂 We were trained to have our kids read and discuss. At any point you could walk into my room and hear conversations going on around reading, writing, and math.

Every September, we started with Launching the Reading and Writing Units and the kids were pretty much trained by the time they got to me in third or fourth grade. Oh how I miss this!!

Fast forward to the present. I am now working in a school that kind of works the opposite. Last year was extremely challenging with a new reading program. We started to use ReadyGen with no training. It has a lot of whole class instruction and some small group instruction. It was taking me three days to do a lesson. SO FRUSTRATING!!

So I decided to TC the lessons and they went much better. I made sure to institute Turn and Talk, or partner talk and start small groups. My class was starting to look similar to how it used to be, but still wasn’t the same. The class was still too quiet and had trouble talking for a long period of time.

I start school in two weeks and I am so glad that I have read “Teaching with Intention” because it has reenergized me to get my second graders to how I want them to be. I want them to talk, to take charge of their learning, to be engaged throughout the day, to have productive conversations where they can share their thoughts and opinions and agree or disagree with their peers.

I know that I have to spend a lot more time on routines and getting reading for having conversations in September and October, especially because they have not been introduced to partner talk or group work in previous years. I already have the posters in my head that I am going to create. I plan on creating an anchor chart with conversation prompts such as; I think…because, I agree with…because, I disagree with…because, This makes me think that…, and a few other prompts. I can not wait to begin!

What conversation prompts would you add to my anchor chart? Leave your prompts in the comments. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. I hope to see you next week when we discuss chapter 2 of “Teaching with Intention” by Debbie Miller.

Rachel